Sunderland earned a vital win at St. James' Park, beating Newcastle United 3-0 through goals from Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughn. With new manager Paolo di Canio and his squad putting up a spirited fight at Stamford Bridge, there was plenty of hope that the Black Cats would be able to produce the goods in a rather heated local derby, and they did here -- although a controversially disallowed goal for the hosts will leave Alan Pardew fuming.
They didn't get much help from Howard Webb, mind. The referee managed to rule against the visitors in vital situations no fewer than three times in the first 20 minutes, denying them two (dubious) penalties and preventing Sessegnon from running on Tim Krul by whistling for a phantom foul. Where Webb taketh, however, Jonas Gutierrez was only too happy to give -- a sloppy pass led to Sunderland breaking and Sessegnon cruised past Steven Taylor before finding the bottom corner with a neat 25-yard finish.
Newcastle enjoyed a renaissance following the goal, with Papiss Cisse forcing Simon Mignolet into a wonderful stop almost straight from kickoff and Sunderland's goalkeeper called into action on several more occasions in the first half. That pressure would continue after the break, but Mignolet remained up to the task, preventing Papiss Cisse from doing any damage.
Some incompetent officiating contributed hugely to the Black Cats staying in front -- in the 61st minute Cisse managed to force the ball in from a free kick only to see his equaliser ruled out for offside -- but at the other end Webb remained completely indifferent to the visitors' penalty claims.
Newcastle had chances, but couldn't manage to find the back of the net, and at the other end there was more woe when Krul landed awkwardly following a clearance and ended with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. The goalkeeper was replaced by Rob Elliot, whose duties consisted mostly of picking the ball out of the back of the net.
Johnson provided the killer blow in the 74th minute, hitting a curler into the top corner when Newcastle's defence refused to close him down. Vaughan, on as a late substitute, then closed the game out with a marvelous goal, latching onto Sessegnon's pass and blasting past Elliot to give Sunderland a vital 3-0 win and bragging rights in the northeast.
It's too early to brush off the relegation worries for the Black Cats, but on the basis of this performance (they probably deserved to win it, offside goal or no), they shouldn't be in too much trouble. Either way, they've picked up three big points here.